Global Osteoporosis Study Underway

Posted on: 10 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

A five year global study has began, with initial results highlighting differences for osteoporosis care in various countries.

In a first-of-its-kind global study into osteoporosis, the Global Longitudinal Registry of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW), will monitor the health of over 60,000 older women over the age of 55, worldwide for 5 years. 

The women have been recruited through 700 primary care physicians in 17 cities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia, with the aim of gathering information on osteoporosis risk factors, treatment approaches, patient behaviour, and fracture outcomes with an annual patient survey over a 5 year period.

For women enrolled in GLOW, fractures after the age of 45 are more prevalent in Europe than in the United States, Canada and Australia. For hip fracture specifically, a prior hip fracture was reported more frequently by women in Europe (2.1%) than by women in the United States (1.7%) or in Canada/Australia (1.4%). These potential differences will be further explored in follow-up years of the study.

Identifying important regional differences is just one aspect of the study, which will also monitor the health of over 60,000 aged 55+ worldwide for 5 years.

To be eligible for this multi-national study, a woman had to be aged 55 years or older and had to have visited a primary care physician for any health reason in the two years prior to the study. Since patient recruitment for GLOW was not linked to osteoporosis, the study is meant to provide a view to the bone health and quality of care of “typical” community-dwelling women in multiple geographies. 

In Europe, 51% of GLOW participants reported having a bone density test, a valuable tool for diagnosing osteoporosis. This contrasts to other geographies where testing frequency was reported at 79%. Among women considered to be at high risk of fracture, only 20% of European women were taking a bone medication versus 30% of North American/Australian women.

“Despite reliable screening methods and multiple therapeutic options being available, osteoporosis remains largely under-diagnosed and under-treated,” said Professor Pierre Delmas, Professor of medicine and rheumatology at University of Lyon, France, and GLOW executive committee co-chair. “Without some improvements, the burden of fractures on our families and on our healthcare systems will only grow with the aging population.”

Direct costs of osteoporotic fractures in Europe alone are expected to rise from €31.7 billion in 2000 to €76.7 billion by 2050. In women over 45 years of age, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in a hospital than diabetes, heart attack or breast cancer.

Hip fractures are the most serious of osteoporosis-related fractures, causing chronic pain, reduced mobility, disability, loss of independence and an increased risk of death.  An estimated 179,000 men and 711,000 women in Europe suffer a hip fracture each year,  We will keep you updated on GLOW's developmenmts.

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